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Newark-on-Trent b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire

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Visit Newark-on-Trent and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:

Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire. The name ‘The Key to the North’ was given in late Anglo-Saxon times, for Newark, or New Work, lay between the River Trent and the River Devon and was also a point of vantage on the Roman Fosse Way. There is no evidence that the Romans built fortifications here; the first recorded owner of the town was Lady Godiva, the famous wife of Earl Leofric, ruler of Mercia. In 1055 Lady Godiva presented the small township as her gift to the monastery of Stow, further down the Trent. in Stephen's reign it was held by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln, who in 1125 entirely reconstructed the existing timber castle in stone. The north gateway, the largest and most elaborate of the sort in the country, and the chapel on the first floor, still surviving, date from the brief period after 1139 during which it was surrendered to the Crown. Other l2th-century remains are the tower at the south-west corner of the building and the eight-bayed crypt, which lies below ground level under part of the west wing. King John frequently stayed at the castle both before and after he came to the throne. During the struggle which ended with the granting of Magna Carta the castle was seized by the barons. It became the king's again in the following year, and here he died in 1216 from overeating, but some say from poison.

The greatest days in the history of Newark Castle came with the Civil War. The people of Newark rallied to the side of Charles I and the castle proved impregnable. Only at the king's express command did Lord Bellasis surrender, and then to march out with all the honours of war, but the castle itself was again reduced to ruin. All that is left is a mere shell. The west wall remains intact, with a tower at each end. The three large windows in the west front mark the great hall, which was much altered when the castle was used as a residence in the 15th century. To this period belongs the beautiful oriel window, which still retains the arms of Thomas Scot, Bishop of Lincoln, and far below are the infamous dungeons to which King John once sent men to die.

The heart of Newark is the old, cobblestoned market place surrounded by many buildings of great beauty. The White Hart inn, next to a draper's shop, is 14th-century, one of the oldest domestic buildings in the Midlands; nearby is the Saracen's Head, where an inn of this name has existed since 1341; the hotel next door is called the Clinton Arms, formerly the Kingston Arms. In 1800 it was important enough to have stables for 90 horses. Lord Byron stayed there when he was supervising the publication of his first book of poems, and Mr Gladstone made his first public political speech from one of the windows.

The Church of St Mary Magdalen stands close to the market place and is remarkable for having a spire 30 ft greater than the length of the ground plan. The lower part of the tower is Early English of the 13th century and the upper part and the needle-sharp spire with its four tiers of dormer windows are 14th-century.

Nearby cities: Nottingham, Lincoln

Nearby towns: Bingham, Grantham, Mansfield, Ollerton, Sleaford, Southwell

Nearby villages: Beckingham, Collingham, Farndon, Lambley, Norton Disney

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